Hit-and-run alert bill, named after Harlem radio DJ, goes into effect

A new city law aimed at catching hit-and-run drivers whose actions result in death or serious injury went into effect Saturday.

The legislation, passed by City Council in a 47-0 vote on Nov. 16, calls for the creation of an Amber Alert-like system that notifies the public about vehicles involved in hit-and-runs within 12 hours after it is determined that they caused death or serious injury.

Advocates say it will help police catch the responsible drivers quicker and alleviate what state Assemb. Carmen N. De La Rosa (D-Inwood) described as a hit-and-run “epidemic” at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

“The time spent looking for the cars is critical because in that time these drivers can destroy the evidence,” said De La Rosa. “We know that when the information is given to the public, we can help law enforcement bring these people to justice.”

A similar alert system has already been in effect in California since 2015.

More than 40,000 hit-and-run crashes happen every year in New York City, and nearly once a week, a New Yorker is either seriously injured or killed by a hit-and-run driver, council member Ydanis Rodriguez said Saturday.

“Any one of us can be the next victim of a hit-and-run,” said Rodriguez, who introduced the alert system legislation to City Council as transportation committee chair earlier this year.

The law is named after Jean Paul Guerrero, a Spanish-language Harlem radio DJ known as Jinx Paul. Guerrero died last December after a then 27-year-old man, Kevin Ozoria, hit him with his black sedan near the intersections of Sheffield and Jamaica avenues in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. Saturday’s news conference was held a block away.

The bill has become law without the signature of the mayor, who has neither approved nor vetoed it in the 30 days since City Council passed it, Rodriguez said. The City Council member remains hopeful de Blasio will sign it, he added.

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